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bulletRaoul Kopelman

Raoul Kopelman
Kasimir Fajans Collegiate Professor of Chemistry, Physics and Applied Physics
Ph.D., Columbia University

  E-mail:   Phone: 734.764.7541   Fax: 734.936.2778  

Short Bio:
Raoul Kopelman is currently the Kasimir Fajans Collegiate Professor of Chemistry, Physics, and Applied Physics and a member of the Biophysics Program and the Center for Biological Nanotechnology at the Uni­versity of Michigan, Ann Arbor.  He has a B.S. and Dipl. Eng. in Chemical Engi­neering from the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology, as well as an M.S. in Physical Chemistry.  After having received a Ph.D. in Chemistry at Columbia Uni­versity, he spent two years at Harvard University, two years as an instructor at the Technion, and two years at the California Institute of Technology before coming to Michigan.  He is a fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Asso­ciation for the Advancement of Science, and has received, among others, the American Chemical Society’s Edward Morley Award and Medal (1997), as well as the Spectrochemical Analysis Award (2005).

Professor Kopelman is the author of 500 scientific papers, patents and books.  Current research interests are in non-classical chemical reac­tion kinetics and ultra-small opto-chemical sensors and actuators for biomedical use.  Smart nanoprobes are being developed for the detection and therapy of cancer.  Kopelman invented optical nanosensors for single cell chemical imaging and is the co-inventor of targeted multifunctional nanoprobes for the imaging and therapy of tumors, as well as the nanoscale photon source, nanoscale voltmeter and nanoscale viscometer.  Professor Kopelman has been the principal investigator on projects of “pathogen nano-countermeasures”, “nano-biomagnetics”, and “Nanoplatforms for Detection, Diagnostics and Treatment of Cancer”, as well as on numerous other projects from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy and private institutions and companies.

Our group includes PhD and postdoctoral students in Chemical Biology, Bioanalytical Chemistry, Neuro-toxicology, Applied Biophysics and Materials Chemistry. The main emphasis is on Nanobiology and Nanomedicine in the sense of making nano-devices that may play the role of cancer drugs, intracellular diagnostic assays or nanotools for biochemical and biophysical research. For instance, a mitochondrial permeability transition and/or a change in the cross-membrane potential may occur due to a proteomic process triggered by a toxin. To study this in a single live cell we may use nanoprobes that image the local calcium ion distribution, map the electric field, the viscosity and/or the local metabolic processes. Similarly, the firing of neurons may be studied by measuring electric fields, NO, oxygen or zinc fluxes. A typical challenge may concern the design and fabrication of nanoparticles with the right components, consisting of organic, inorganic and biological ingredients put together for a specific task and delivery method.

Our lab has produced the world's smallest light sources and the smallest and fastest biochemical sensors, based on nanoparticles and called “nanopebbles”. This enables optical, spectral and chemical imaging on a nanometer scale. Novel fiber-optic and nano-sphere sensors (for pH, calcium, zinc, potassium, sodium, magnesium, copper, iron, chloride, nitrite, oxygen, nitric oxide, glucose and reactive oxygen species) reduce the required sample volume as well as the detection limit a billion-fold, and simultaneously the response time by a factor of a thousand. These sensors have been used to monitor biological processes, such as organogenesis in live rat-embryos, as well as pathogenic processes due to chemical pollution or poisons. Investigations are also performed on the primary chemical processes inside single neuron and cancer cells. Furthermore, our targeted in-vivo nano-devices detect (with MRI) and kill (photo-dynamically) brain tumor cells.

We collaborate with several groups, at the University of Michigan (Neurotoxicology, Oncology, Bio-Medical Engineering) and outside, e.g. Roswell Park Cancer Institute, on a variety of related projects.


American Chemical Society Award in Spectrochemical Analysis, 2005
Collegiate Inventors Grand Prize
American Chemical Society Morley Award and Medal
Guggenheim Fellow
Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science
Fellow of the American Physical Society
Lady Davis Fellowship
J. William Fulbright Research Award
National Institutes of Health National Research Service Award
National Science Foundation Creativity Award




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